My weekly observations about stories around the baseball world from a Canadian perspective:
– The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame will announce its 2014 induction class tomorrow at 9 a.m. ET. I will have a post on Cooperstowners in Canada shortly after the announcement.
– Speaking of inductees, congratulations to legendary Toronto Sun columnist and Canadian Baseball Network founder, Bob Elliott, who was inducted into the Okotoks Dawgs/Seaman Stadium Hall of Fame at the Foothills Centennial Centre in Okotoks, Alta., last night. A steadfast grassroots supporter of baseball in Canada in his writing, Elliott has also covered Major League Baseball since 1987. In recent years, Elliott has been honoured with the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s Jack Graney Award (2010) and the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s J.G. Taylor Spink Award (2012) for media excellence. Elliott joined philanthropist Don Seaman and trailblazing Alberta coach Blair Kubicek as the Hall’s inaugural inductees. The Hall was created to pay tribute to individuals who were instrumental in making the team one of the most successful amateur and youth baseball organizations in Canada. The Dawgs run an amateur and youth program that features a highly successful summer collegiate club and five high performance youth teams. The youth teams have won seven provincial championships and a national championship. It’s estimated that 35 players from the program have been drafted by big league clubs and hundreds more have secured collegiate scholarships.
– It was a good week for Canadian free agents: infielder Pete Orr (Richmond Hill, Ont.) inked a minor league deal with the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday, while right-hander Chris Leroux (Montreal, Que.) was signed to a minor league deal and invited to big league spring training with the New York Yankees the following day.
– Two former Toronto Blue Jays also signed with new teams this week: Reed Johnson landed with the Marlins and Yorvit Torrealba with the Angels. Both signed minor league deals with invitations to big league spring training on Friday.
– Also on Friday, Roger Bernadina, who was signed by the Montreal Expos as a free agent in 2001 and spent three seasons in the Expos organization, secured a minor league deal with the Reds with an invitation to big league camp.
– It was 27 years ago today that the Toronto Blue Jays dealt second baseman Damaso Garcia and pitcher Luis Leal to the Atlanta Braves for right-hander Craig McMurtry. The deal turned out to be a bust for both clubs. Neither pitcher (Leal or McMurtry) appeared in a big league game with their new club and after missing the entire 1987 campaign, Garcia, a former all-star with the Jays, hit only .117 in 21 games for the Braves before being released.
– If you’re looking for a Canadian baseball connection to today’s Super Bowl, you can cheer for Seattle tight end Luke Willson. The 6-foot-5, 251-pound, LaSalle, Ont., native was once a power-hitting first baseman for Canada’s junior national team (JNT). To read about Willson’s tenure with the JNT, follow this link.
– All this football talk got me wondering if any athlete has ever played in both the CFL and in Major League Baseball. The closest player I could find was Ricky Williams. Williams played with the Toronto Argonauts in 2006 and was drafted in the eighth round by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1995. Williams played four seasons in the Phillies system (never above Class-A) and hit .211, before electing to pursue a full-time NFL career.
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